Secrecy and security:
….Last week, when the protests began, the Federal Aviation Administration banned low-flying vehicles—vehicles like news helicopters—below 3,000 feet over Ferguson airspace, in order “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.” The no-fly-zone was created at the request of local law enforcement, following a police report that a police chopper had been shot at. Yesterday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon renewed the ban, citing the same police-safety justification.
The police safety justification is hard to buy. What possible threat could a news helicopter, circling hundreds or thousands of feet above the scene, be to the activities on the ground? If anything, helicopters, which would not block emergency vehicles, which would not get in the way of cops or crowds, which would remain at a remove from the action, would be safer than the rest of the media.
No, safety isnt the issue. Thats not what this is about. It’s about local law enforcement not wanting to be watched—and not wanting media to capture a complete picture of the scene.As it stands, media can’t always follow police off the main road in Ferguson and into the side neighborhoods, where police have sometimes pushed protestors, using tear gas in residential areas. The media can’t show overhead images that give a full sense of how occupied the main part of the town is. The media can’t show an overhead shot of a street-wide column of riot cops advancing on a relatively small group protestors, which is what appears to have happened late last night.